Mixed results for Asian teams on final day of Algarve Cup
Kuala Lumpur: China PR ended their campaign on a high, Australia and Japan suffered disappointing losses, and Korea Republic fell victim to the elements on an action-packed final day of the Algarve Cup in Portugal.
PORTUGAL 2 (Gomes 38’, Marques 56’)
AUSTRALIA 1 (Cooper 45+2’)
A subpar Australia lost for the first time in a year, falling to a shock 2-1 defeat against 38th-ranked Portugal to finish fourth for the second successive Algarve Cup.
Playing in dreadful conditions for the fourth time in eight days, the unfamiliar-looking Matildas line-up struggled to find an early rhythm and fell behind after a disastrous Caitlin Cooper back pass allowed Nadia Gomes to score in the 38th minute.
Sydney FC defender Cooper made up for her error in the final seconds of the first half, bravely navigating a crowded penalty area to nod the ball into the back of the net and bring her side level.
Portugal continued to apply pressure in the second half, with winger Jessica Silva proving difficult to control, and regained the lead thanks to a powerful 56th minute strike from Vanessa Marques.
Substitute Sam Kerr created a golden chance for Australia to equalise when she won a late penalty, but Emily van Egmond’s tame spot-kick was saved by Inês Pereira and Portugal’s win was secured.
CANADA 2 (Beckie 20’, Lawrence 50’)
Canada earned their first win over Japan in a decade, scoring in each half to claim a 2-0 victory in the playoff for fifth.
The reigning Asian champions – fresh from consecutive wins over Iceland and Denmark – fell behind when Janine Beckie’s magnificent curling strike left Ayaka Yamashita helpless in the 20th minute.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Ashley Lawrence then made Canada’s position even more commanding when she pounced a misunderstanding between Saki Kumagai and Yamashita to make it 2-0 just after half time.
With their Portugal campaign over, Japan will meet Ghana in an international friendly in Nagasaki on April 1, before traveling to Jordan for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup later that week.
CHINA P.R. 2 (Liu Shanshan 53’, Song Duan 79’)
RUSSIA 1 (Shishkina 40’)
China PR ended their campaign with a win, scoring two excellent goals in overturning a half-time deficit to beat Russia 2-1 and claim 11th place.
The goals, from Liu Shanshan and Song Duan, were a fitting reward for the Steel Roses, as Siggi Eyjolfsson’s consistently competive side avoided finishing last after three successive group defeats.
Eager to put an end to their poor run of results, the eight-time Asian champions fell behind to a goal from Sofia Shishkina, but levelled through Liu whose brilliant free-kick provided a maiden international goal to remember for the 25-year-old.
Following that moment of individual quality, the decisive goal was an example of outstanding team play, with Song Duan adding the finishing touch to a terrific passing move in the 79th minute.
KOREA REPUBLIC vs. NORWAY - CANCELLED
Korea Republic, who had impressed many with their performances in Portugal, were forced to share seventh place with Norway after their playoff was cancelled after a scoreless first half due to the persistent rain which has plagued the tournament.
Norwegian head coach Martin Sjögren praised both teams for trying to produce a match, adding, “It’s a pity the match was cancelled, but the weather conditions were so bad that we, Korea Republic and the referee agreed that it was best to stop the match.”
Despite the uneventful final day, Korea Republic can look back at a productive tournament which included a win against Russia and a draw with eventual finalists Sweden.
The unplayable conditions also robbed the Swedes of a chance of becoming tournament winners as they shared the trophy with the Netherlands after the final was also called off.
2018 Algarve Cup – Final Rankings
=7. KOREA REPUBLIC
11. CHINA PR
Photos: AFP, matildas.footballaustralia.com.au, http://www.fpf.pt